Celia Brooks recommends some delightful miniature gifts from Borough Market’s traders
Borough Market provides everything you need to fill an abundant table throughout the festive season, plus decadent gifts for anyone who likes to eat or drink. It’s easy to be bold and generous with so much on offer, but don’t overlook the little stuff! A plethora of tiny temptations can make an impact larger than their small packaging suggests. Spread these little gems among the stockings, wrap some up for your office secret Santa gift, or pack them all up in one perfectly formed petite hamper.
These utterly astounding giant capers in olive oil are organic and wild and come in a 140g jar (they’re also available from the olive deli counter—ask for a sample). Caper lovers will rejoice, those indifferent to capers will finally understand their merits, and caper haters might just be converted. They’re so huge they can be eaten like olives, or scattered over salads, pizza or bruschetta, and they take on a divine crisp character when roasted. There are plenty of other wonderful tiny treats in the shop including bee pollen, truffle salt and honey, and gorgeous bags of fragrant dried herb bundles plucked from the lush Greek mountain fields.
Pocket-size hot pepper sauce
De la Grenade, £2
Perfect for that person you know who likes chilli sauce with everything, this 50ml plastic bottle fits in pocket or handbag for easy access with fried breakfasts or anything that needs livening up on the road—ideal for travelling! This tangy Caribbean scotch bonnet sauce is not for the faint hearted—a few drops will send endorphin levels soaring. Also, the stall’s pepper jelly comes in a cute and practical 170g jar (£5)—a gorgeous sweet and spicy condiment for pairing with cream cheese or cheddar on crackers, toast or bagels.
Kentish cobnut oil
Nut Farms, £6
Cobnuts are a rare and ancient variety of hazelnut with an elongated shape, and this nutritious multi-purpose oil has all the sweet and savoury impact of the fresh, milky kernels it is produced from. The virgin cold-pressed oil can be used for cooking but its flavour is best exploited when drizzled over potatoes or fish or used for dipping bread. As well as the petite 97ml bottles, larger bottles are available, as are the fresh roasted nuts themselves: a flavour sensation and totally addictive. You’ll also find possibly the world’s greatest wood and brass nutcracker on the stall (£15) and heaps of Kentish cobnuts and walnuts in the shell just begging to get cracked! Nut Farms will be gone after Christmas so don’t miss out.
Salted pistachios in milk chocolate
Artisan du Chocolat, £9.50
Everybody loves a chocolate-covered nut, but choc-enrobed salted pistachios are on a whole other level. The 125g bag of munchy morsels is likely to disappear in moments (so easy to eat, so hard to stop!), leaving behind an adorable little tin decorated with a London-themed illustration to store more secret treats in. If you or your gift recipient like salt with your sweet, you’ll find plenty of temptations here, including a bottle of salted caramel sauce, which can never be a bad thing.
Smoked paprika flakes grinder
That expert gourmet who seems to have everything quite possibly does not have this. Available in sweet or hot, this grinder dispenses little red shards of smoked Spanish paprika that taste fresher and less dominant that the powdered pimentón and look gorgeous as a finishing flourish on the plate. It’s a wonderful accent for eggs, sauteed greens, octopus or even baked beans. Check out the central table in the shop for plenty more unusual Spanish delicacies like baby figs in ximenez sherry.
S’A’nf fig and apple mustard
Move over chutney… cheese has a new BFF. This rich and piquant condiment comes in a covetable and reusable 125g preserving jar and is the perfect partner to any of Jumi’s unique Swiss cheeses, especially Schlossberger, which is similar to gruyere, but just about any cheese will enjoy its company. If you’re shopping for a cheese lover you really should check out Jumi’s one-of-a-kind star product, Belper Knolle—a dried, black pepper-coated, garlic infused cow’s milk cheese about the size of a snooker ball, wrapped in gauze with a gold ribbon (£8.50)—it doesn’t need refrigeration until it’s opened. It can even be supplied with the perfect handmade shaving tool (£20) for showering wisps of the cheese over pasta, risotto, eggs, salad or steak.
Kingston black apple aperitif
New Forest Cider, £4
The only problem with gifting this dainty 5cl bottle of cider brandy blended with pure Kingston Black apple juice (18% vol) is that the recipient will wish they had a whole bottle. Which will have them making a beeline to Borough Market—a gift in itself. Other quintessentially English tipples in baby bottles on offer include Somerset Royal cider brandy in all its glory (42% vol) and Apple eau de vie (40% vol). While you browse the wonderful boozy offerings, you simply must sip a hot mulled cider to get you well and truly into the festive spirit—and the stall sells the spice bags for mulling too: another ideal stocking stuffer.